Mamaroneck School Board OKs Hampshire Deal
By Cindy Goldstein -
At a bright and early 8 am meeting on July 26th, the Mamaroneck School Board (“the Board”) again discussed the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Hampshire Recreation LLC (“Hampshire”).
Public comments were allowed – all against the MOU - but in the end the Board voted 6:0 (with one abstention) to approve the revised MOU posted on the Board’s website the night before. See HERE for the text. See HERE for the map.
Celia Felsher, an attorney, former school board president, president of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Commission and neighbor of Hampshire, spoke about specifics issues she identified in the MOU and stated her hope that the Board would have a robust discussion of the issue before the vote. Other commenters also pointed out that the Board must be transparent and indicated that the public had not been included in prior discussions (except for one meeting on June 13th) as required under the Open Meetings Law. See HERE.
Another speaker pointed out the fact that approximately 40% of the Village of Mamaroneck was in Rye Neck which has a separate school district and any burden on the Village would be impacting those residents who do not (and cannot) use the Mamaroneck schools. In addition, a change in zoning would impact all similar zones within the Village. See HERE.
Other public comments were aimed at the recent findings from the NY Attorney General’s office citing the District for Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment in the schools. See HERE. In August 2022 the District settled a racial harassment lawsuit.
After the public had a chance to speak about the MOU, most of the Board members spoke on the issue. Several indicated they lived in Orienta – the Mamaroneck Village neighborhood most impacted by a residential building at Hampshire – and were not in favor of a large development. However, they stated they believed that a vote to approve the MOU was in the best interest of the District. They described their responsibility to look at any and all ways to benefit the school community and by combating overcrowding and providing more outdoor space they would move towards more equity among students.
At the prior District meeting Mayor Tom Murphy stated that the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees (where changes on zoning laws are made) had no interest in rezoning the golf club to allow a 100 unit condominium development at Hampshire.
We will have to wait and see for what some have predicted will be a vigorous public relations campaign from Hampshire, with the required assistance of the Mamaroneck School District, to put pressure on the Mamaroneck Village Board of Trustees.
Editor’s Note: Author Cindy Goldstein was a member of the Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board that evaluated the Hampshire PRD site plan and unanimously rejected the application for various reasons including the threat to human life and property from flooding. That matter continues in the courts.